From today, after one year of phasing in, all UK cigarettes and rolling tobacco are sold in the now familiar drab greenly brown standardised packaging; along with all other tobacco products they also bear the ridiculously sized “warning” labels with imagery captured straight from an authoritarian’s perverted dreams and some of the wording being so disproportionate and demanding, it starts to lose credibility. The new packaging is so inadequate at being informative that it no longer even states the milligrams of tar and nicotine.
To add injury to insult: by law from today all [new stock *] cigarette packs will be sold for no less than £8.82. Obviously, this is not going to make smokers smoke less, but just make them poorer, because they are already smoking the minimum amount.
None of this is anything to do with good intentioned public awareness, or help for smokers, but everything to do with spite on those who will not get with the program.
There are many different brands of tobacco; each with slightly different tastes. The meaning of the packaging branding is to visually represent what is on the inside on the outside. Not only does this help smokers decide which brand they want, it does even to some degree externalise the personality of the smoker. Up until now there was: the traditional pub drinker Benson & Hedges Gold smoker; the office working hipster Marlboro Gold smoker; the sociable bingo lady Superkings Menthol smoker and the distinguished gentleman connoisseur Dunhill International smoker.
Now there is just: the dirty, disgusting and stale Benson & Hedges Gold smoker; the dirty disgusting and stale Marlboro Gold smoker; the dirty disgusting and stale Superkings Menthol smoker and the dirty disgusting and stale Dunhill International smoker. The new packaging not only misrepresents what it contains but also the consumer. The anti-tobacco lobby argue that doing away with brand images is a good thing, as it may put people off smoking. This means forcing the consumer to portray themselves in a false negative light for choosing to have the product inside. The punishment of humiliation for not getting with the program. In other words, smokers may quit smoking not for their health but for their acceptance in mainstream society meaning smokers are under duress to quit.
What has been deleted today, is another part the old culture which allows each of us to think, choose and be ourselves. But that is it, those in government and the anti-tobacco lobby hate culture and individuality. It is not anything to do with health or saving lives. It is about inadequate people projecting their inadequacies on everyone else in order to make themselves feel more adequate in comparison.
While the UK smoking bans artificially changed mainstream culture, making it “socially unacceptable” to be smelt smoking, tobacco disgusting packaging will aim to artificially change mainstream culture again, making it “socially unacceptable” to be seen smoking. The following step will be to make it “socially unacceptable” to smoke, or ever talk of smoking in conversation, again through artificial means. This can also be known as the totalitarian tiptoe and in this instance, it is accepted through social engineering or to put it a better way: brainwashing. Even smokers are joining the program, frantically dancing around back and forth on public pavements as they smoke in an attempt to dodge the non-smokers that walk past, with no memory of the sane parallel world that existed not so long ago. Maybe in future only a complete monster would eat a chocolate bar in the presence of children or McDonalds will have to have its windows blacked out with warnings on the outside and we will all have to do our mandatory hours at the gym each week. This may all sound ridiculous but the ridiculous has already happened.
While it is not so easy to change the law, governing our behaviour, we can still break all of the unwritten rules governing our behaviour by ending our participation in the madness. It is about time we stop worrying what others may think and just say that the emperor is wearing no clothes even if it does infuriate everyone else.
* Updated 22nd May 2017